Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Bulletin of Entomological Research (2002) 92, pp. 89–96, DOI: 10.1079/BER2001135


U.S. government work.


The screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), is one of the most important pests of livestock in the Western Hemisphere. During early immature stages it is morphologically very similar (first instars are virtually indistinguishable) to the secondary screwworm, C. macellaria (Fabricius). Here, the utility of the random amplified polymorphic DNA–polymerase chain reaction (RAPD–PCR) was explored as a technique for developing molecular genetic markers for these two species. Of the 120 arbitrary primers screened, 21 primers produced markers that were further investigated. Seven of the 21 primers produced clear and reproducible markers that were tested with DNA of five individuals from four populations of each species; five of these primers showed 12 RAPD markers that differentiated the species in all populations. Analyses of data from these seven primers also suggested that intraspecific polymorphisms exist that could be useful in distinguishing populations of screwworms. Some population genetic tools, such as genetic distance, cluster analysis and bootstrapping, were used to statistically explore these polymorphisms. The resulting statistics showed 100% support for the ability of RAPD–PCR to discriminate between the two species. Bootstrapping with data from one of the genetic distance calculations produced a tree with all individual screwworms in the correct populations, indicating that RAPD–PCR has promise for displaying intraspecific genetic variation that could be used in establishing the general geographic origin of screwworm samples.

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